Acclimation Process of Bettas
Over the years we have has so many debates on slow acclimation vs quick-release and why we do it so much different than others. Over and over in chat rooms we hear supposed experts say to just open the bag and pour in the fish, others say no acclimation is ever needed because the fish is already stressed in the bag and need fresh new water as fast as you can and so much more BS that has no shipping science behind it and some of the fish did great. They have also been known to say that fish that have been acclimated slowly, died shortly after adding it to the tank. Now, a lot of you are saying to your self that this method or another method is the best one to use. So, for me this seems like a good time do put some myths and wives’ tales to rest once and for all with some science behind it.
So, your fish you just got and put into your tank died and you are looking for some on to blame, right? Well hold on because unless you have a DVM in Aquaculture you would be guessing as best. There is no real possible way for the public to know 100% why or what exactly killed that new fish. You can take a guess but it would be just a guess. You will never know if it was diseased for sure or it was a handling issue or it was another issue with 100% certainty. Did the fish experience some kind of trauma that contributed to its condition and death? Was a new substance in the new water that was toxic in a fast dose? Was it acclimated too slow, too fast, or maybe it was a combination of all the above? The fact that new fish is in its next life should not automatically lead us to the non-scientific conclusion that it was the slow acclimation.
A lot of fish keepers seen to be into a trend of measuring things like ammonia, PH, nitrite and nitrate. If this all measures out to some nice pretty chart, some will claim the water is perfect because the 4 tests say so. Well hate to kill this myth but I will bring in the science for the one’s saying if it tests perfect it is. You see they fail to realize that water is called a universal solvent. Almost anything will dissolve in it over time and the number of toxins that you could be measured (if you had the ability to do the test) would be mind blowing to see the toxins would be endless. From extra water conditioners, fix this and fix that, medications, residue from leaves or plants, cheap plastic, paint on the rocks and so much more. Now, some of these things a fish might be able to handle if they build up over time and they get slowly acclimated to it. Other can be deadly at full strength all at once. We all know what a betta can handle when not under stress is usually quite different from what it can take when stress from a long trip is part of the new environment. To sit back and really analyze the problem when dealing with a very infinitely complex set of variables, we as scientists are often forced to look at only the product of outcome in the analysis. In other words, outcome driven studies start with events known to occur and then look for the scientific explanations of how and why it occurred. In this instance, we don’t go so far as to try and figure out exactly why it occurs, just that it does and what method is best to overcome the negative outcome.
So, you see when people say this method is better or that method is better, they are not looking at the big picture or the info at hand like PH, temperature, additives, etc. We ship almost 150,000 bettas per year all around the world and have 30+ years of data collection to examine and draw a conclusion from. Our professional experience tells us that bettas shipped buy us and acclimated slowly have a far higher survival rate than the bettas that were just dumped in a tank. I am not saying that your method is not going to work because they obviously do – at least in that lucky situation and could even be the best method in those situations, but how does one know in advance what the new environment is going to present to the fish?
No shipper or store employee is a mind reader and no tanks are the same from one location to the other. No one can predict what has leached into your water or what un-natural additives you were talked into using. With so much that can be different for one location to the other it is most of the time best to “GO SLOW IF YOU DO NOT KNOW” that both tanks on each end were identical and nothing changed while shipping or handling the fish from one location to the other. Sure, some fish can handle a lot of stress at one time if the genetics are good and the fish is healthy. But that fish you just rushed on dumping into a whole new environment could now be a ticking time bomb of issues later. Of course, you can listen to whoever you like, a person can always risk one fish on the quick method and observe its reaction very carefully for 20 or 30 minutes. That will teach them a lot for sure, but it will put more stress on fish and later a potential risk. There are times you would need to risk it with a new fish and a drop and pray method might be the only way to save the fish. An empty shipping bag and the fish still alive, a fish that took to long in shipping and the O2 level is so low the fish is passing out. There will always be an exception to the rules when receiving new fish. Most people will understand what is an emergency and what is not.
Have we proven to you yet with a little science why slow acclimation works? As far as science and statistics go it is the safest method for receiving fish to you new quarantine tank, based on our 30+ years of experiences and lab work.
Proven steps to Acclimate you new betta
- Low light areas are best to reduce stress.
- Make sure you quarantine tank is set up and ready with the correct temp and PH.
- Have all clean supply you will use ready.
- Have your drip line setup with your quarantine water ready.
- Make sure not to work in your already quarantined fish area (you should be in a whole other room).
- Set the drip speed to around 10 drops per minute
- Run you drip till the bag is full.
- After 30 minutes, net the fish out to the quarantine tank and dispose of the bag water. (never add bag water to the quarantine tank)
- Once the fish is added to the quarantine tank keep the tank in low light for 24 hours to relieve stress and do not feed.
- After 24 hours you can start your quarantine medications and start to feed what the fish has already been eating at the store or dealer. Feed only a little a few times a day at first. Too much to fast can cause bacteria to bloom in the gut of the fish and cause bloat.
- During quarantine is when you will slowly change over the betta to you chosen foods, PH and Hardness.
- After you quarantine is done in 4 weeks and the fish look good without any issues move to the main tank he will call home.
- Break down and disinfect the quarantine area and supplies and store for next use. Nothing from quarantine is ever used any other location.